February 7, 2023

Dubai Week

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Central Bank governor’s brother released on bail

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On Thursday, the Lebanese judiciary released Raja Salameh, the brother of central bank governor Riyad Salameh, two months after his arrest in exchange for a financial guarantee equivalent to about $ 3.7 million, the highest value in Lebanese history. .

King Kada Aun, the public prosecutor in Mount Lebanon, arrested Raja Salameh on March 17.

An arrest warrant was issued against him on charges of “illegal enrichment and money laundering” in a case involving the governor of the central bank.

Judicial evidence said, “Nicholas Mansour, the first investigating judge in Mount Lebanon, agreed to release King Salameh in exchange for a financial guarantee of one hundred billion Lebanese pounds ($ 3.7 million) and to seize his forty properties in Lebanon until the trial proceedings are over.” He also confiscated his passport and prevented him from leaving Lebanon.

This guarantee is considered the most valuable in the history of Lebanon, according to the source.

It is paid by check to the Palace of Justice. If he is proved innocent by trial, he will recover it in full, while if he is found guilty it will be confiscated for the benefit of the state treasury.

The case against Raja Salamah also includes the Governor of the Central Bank, who has not yet appeared before the trial judge, and his hearing has been adjourned until next June as formal arguments have been submitted.

In April 2021, the Lebanese judiciary launched a local investigation into Riyadh Salameh’s property and its evidence, targeting him and his brother King in Switzerland on suspicion of being involved in more than $ 300 million in fraud cases. Bank of Lebanon.

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Riyadh Salameh faces judicial complaints in other European countries, including France and Britain.

On March 28, France, Germany and Luxembourg froze 120 million euros worth of Lebanese assets in 2002 and 2021, following an investigation into money laundering and the embezzlement of more than $ 330 million worth of public funds in Lebanon, including the governor of the Banque du Liban. 5 million euros. ” .

Sources familiar with the file told AFP that five people were Salamah and four members of his family or close to him.

Since 2019, Lebanon has seen an unprecedented economic downturn that has made the World Bank one of the worst countries in the world since the middle of the last century.

This, along with the political stalemate, prevents reform measures to curb degradation and improve the living standards of the people, more than eighty percent of whom live below the poverty line.

Salameh, who has been regarded as the godfather of the lira for many years, faces criticism over the monetary policies he has adopted for decades, believing they have accumulated debt, but he has repeatedly defended himself, saying the central bank “financed the state, but did not spend the money.”